How Democracies Die – really?


How Democracies Die, a book by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, has been garnering much attention in recent weeks, note Emily Hollan, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Hadas Aron, a post-doctoral fellow at Tel Aviv University and an Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. But, contrary to the book’s claims, the decline of one of the most stable, long-lasting democracies in the world can only be compared to the decline of other lasting, consolidated democracies, of which there are none, they write:

We don’t know how consolidated democracies die, but we do know how empires and world systems collapse. Empires collapse when power shifts in a different direction and they cannot adjust to new technological, economic, and military circumstances. It is unclear if we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the world order, but we certainly should be paying attention to the signs. In the past decade, Russia has been playing an increasingly assertive role on the world stage. China has been expanding its diplomatic efforts throughout the globe, and is now an economic powerhouse, and a technological and environmental leader. The most notable arena for this global shift in power is the Syrian Civil War, where the United States has capitulated to Russian interests, reinforcing Russia’s aggressive tactics. Most significantly, both Russia and China offer an alternative model of governance to Western liberal democracy. The model has already been emulated by multiple populist governments including Hungary, India, and Turkey.

“Here lies the great danger of the populist turn: the battleground is vulnerable democracies, and the United States is consciously neglecting its role as a defender of democracy,” they contend. RTWT

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